Monarto Safari Park

I have never been to Africa, but I have been to Monarto Safari Park. It is the sister zoo of Adelaide Zoo, and about an hour’s drive, southeast from the CBD.

When you go in you have to brave a long dirt road where giant birds cross your path. Never forget you are facing the species that won The Emu War.

At the visitor’s centre you will be greeted with signage, souvenirs, and bugs. Oh there is a cafe too.

A Safari shuttle leaves the entrance every half an hour on a loop around the park. The zoo is about 1500 hectares of land, and they recommend allowing yourself 4-5 hours if you want to come for a day.

View from the bus.

(A fun fact about kangaroos in Australia: they are everywhere. Footage in the ghost towns at the height of COVID lockdowns showed one bounding through the city.)

The bus passes through a range of habitats. You’ll see a lot of hoofed animals like Mongolian Wild Horses and American Bisons and antelope and deer, or as a toddler was squealing behind me, “Bambi’s dad!!!”

Beyond these habitats are some nice cats:


I think across the world, people’s attitudes towards zoos can be rather varied. Some think they shouldn’t exist. Ultimately it depends on what the function of the zoo is. Monarto Zoo is part of an international network aimed at conserving threatened species. For instance, the Mongolian Wild Horses were extinct in the wild before they were reintroduced, which would have been impossible without reservoirs from our state.

The staff seem quite attuned to ethics too – for example, they would never release a prey animal for the predators to hunt, because in the enclosure the prey would not stand a chance.

So instead, beautiful critters like this cheetah get fed pre-killed meat only. The zookeepers have to work out other ways to keep the animals mentally engaged with enrichment, such as with toys and so on.

As another example, the chimpanzees get both an indoor and outdoor playground. Here are some babies tumbling inside on the hot day.

The chimpanzee centre was founded by none other than Dame Jane Goodall herself.

On another part of the loop you will meet some more superstars.


Fun fact: apparently the white rhino got its name from the mispronunciation of an African term for “wide mouthed”. Then the black rhino got its name because it wasn’t a white rhino.

A sculpture of a flailing rhino. The artist made this to warn that if we don’t protect their numbers from poachers, they will go “belly up”.

Last but not least, here are some cute little meerkats.


This one is a reminder by the side of the road as you’re driving on the dirt road back out.

This blog post comes a little late after my previous one. Uni i.e. archaeology school has finally started! The requisite reading is super interesting and I will write about that when I have time. Officially juggling full-time work and part-time study now.

What are some of your experiences with wildlife?

Australia, journal

Kangaroo Island: Fire and Water

Vivonne Bay

Here we went exploring. This bay is the second place in a row I’ve learnt that was named after a very nice lady, Catherine de Vivonne.

(The other place and person was Adelaide, the Queen in the 1830s, who was kind and 27 years her husband’s junior. She influenced King William to cut out swearing and drinking, and was loved by all.)

Anyway, over at Vivonne we found some ruins!

Stairs from the beach to nowhere

These weren’t terribly old ruins – the charred bits indicated they were probably burnt in the 2019-2020 bushfires – that time when pretty much all of Australia was ablaze.

There were no signs saying NO CLIMBING, so we went up for science.

The view at the top.

The fires on Kangaroo Island that summer ravaged 48% of the whole place. This report also details the destruction of habitat for various species. That summer, you could see red skies and smoke from more than 150km away.

A lot of animals died, sadly. But there still is surviving wildlife. Like this jewel-like bug…

… and this endangered and rare bird, the hooded plover:

Seal Bay

At Seal Bay (which would probably have been better named Sea Lion Bay), there are often many sea lions on the beach. You can pay to watch as animals flaunt the life we runners of the rat race all dream of (although to be fair, they do spend 3 days at sea hunting, and 3 days recuperating).

Zzzz. The dream!

A little inland lies the skeleton of a young whale that was maybe trying to do the same thing as the sea lions, but never made it back to the water. Poor thing.

The young whale, which conservation park has fenced off for teaching purposes. RIP.

Dolphins at Penneshaw

Driving along the coast, the partner spotted some blobs in the water and wondered aloud if they were dolphins, at which I yelled “WHERE?” and jumped out the car.

So now I can say I’ve seen the rival species to our intelligence in the wild. Seriously, if you have ever seen pictures of a dolphin’s brain you would possibly be alarmed, and glad they don’t have feet and opposable thumbs, or the world might have been theirs while we were fluffing around in caves, discovering fire. Maybe.

Ever explored some old abandoned sites/tempered your SO’s language/beached yourself/seen interesting creatures?